Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Through the roof

Last night was full of moment. There was a lot of not getting enough work done (which is why my next shop update starts tomorrow come hell or high water), mangoes with coconut rice, and a mystery. The mangoes with coconut rice will be at the end of this post because I'd like to talk about the mystery. If you just want the recipe, click through the jump cut and page down until you see the food picture. :)

So, the mystery has to do with visitors to my shop and shop hearts. I check Craftcult several times a day to see my shop hearts. I know that hearts don't equal sales, but I think of it as a general barometer of how appealing my shop is. And really, it just makes me feel good. It's a bit of harmless affirmation.

Last night, the number jumped. It jumped so much that I thought it was a glitch and wondered if Craftcult was having problems. There was more than a page of new hearts. That is not typical for my shop! So I went to Craftopolis to see if it also had the anomalous hearts.

Look at the visitors, views and hearts for Aug 9. 821 unique visitors, 2611 page views, and 44 new shop hearts. I was gobsmacked. And I still thought it might be a glitch.

Keep in mind that in May a skein of my yarn was in an Etsy front page Treasury. That day I netted 300+ unique visitors and 26 shop hearts. This blew that day away.

I was still skeptical so I checked and everything kept saying it was real, so I started hunting for the source. I googled my shop, I checked for any more front page treasuries, I checked treasuries in general, I checked Ravelry, I even checked Etsy finds on the slim chance. I came up blank everywhere. There was nothing to explain why people had suddenly decided to heart my shop right and left starting 8:48pm last night.

I waited for midnight so I could check my analytics, and there was the completely unexpected source. Facebook.

Now, I do have a fanpage that I started recently, but it has a modest 89 followers and one of them is me! I hadn't been doing anything differently that would explain the increase, and anyway these were direct links from Facebook. There was no corresponding increase in my fanpage followers. Nothing. I went to bed with a mystery. This morning I found out why when I checked my Facebook news feed.

The Etsy fanpage linked my shop last night at about 8:48pm. And from thence came aaaaaallll those visits. Clearly I should check my news feed more often!

Now, this has not translated into sales, and there was some drama in the comments that I missed out on because the originating post was deleted. I'm very curious about that. But all in all it was an incredible surprise and I'm extremely pleased and grateful.

Of course, this has increased my obsessive checking of shop hearts. But I have a date with my camera and my yarn tomorrow, so that should give me a good break.


Now, on to the mangoes and coconut rice. I feel like I'm slacking with the drop in food posts, but I haven't been cooking meals a lot lately. We have family visiting and I'm swamped with work, so that always makes it difficult to blog about what I do cook, and I also end up cooking less. But I made this for dessert last night.

It's that oh so simple and oh so delicious combination of sweetened sticky rice perfumed with coconut milk, and served with lots of luscious ripe mango. I cubed the mango to make it easier to divide into several portions. In restaurants, it tends to be a half mango cut into handsome slices, but this way is easier at home.

I did learn one thing this time. I was thrown for a loop because the rice is long grain sticky (glutinous) rice, not short grain. I'm used to the short grained, and have never cooked the long grain before. The puzzler is that long grain rice typically needs more water than short grain. So I was stumped and split the difference.

Turns out, sticky rice needs the lesser amount of water regardless of long or short grainedness. I had to leave the pot uncovered for a while to let the excess moisture cook away, and that's why the grains are so broken in the picture. It ended up much too soft and didn't hold up well to stirring in the coconut milk. Still, it was delicious. I really love this recipe, it's the perfect balance of sweet.

Coconut Rice - This is a scaled up version of the one in Jennifer Brennan's The Original Thai Cookbook. Her recipe calls for 1c of coconut milk and I didn't want to leave half a can of the stuff in the refrigerator. Comfortably serves 8.

2.5c of glutinous rice, prepared as usual (Keep in mind that glutinous rice is not the same as sushi rice. The grains are bright white and opaque, not translucent.)
3c water for cooking the rice (for scaling the recipe, the first cup of rice gets 1.5c of water, each additional cup of rice gets 1c of water.)
one 13.5oz or so can of thick coconut milk (I just used Goya)
1/2c + 1/3c sugar (It's 1/2c per 1.5c rice)
1/2tsp salt
4 or more ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and cut into large chunks (I go with half a mango per person, minimum)
optional - a few spoons of coconut cream or toasted coconut flakes for on top.

To cook the rice, rinse the rice well, drain it and put it in a heavy bottomed pot with a lid. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover and let it simmer for 20min undisturbed. Or use a rice cooker like I did!

While the rice is cooking, put the coconut milk in a saucepan and simmer it at medium heat until it's reduced 1/3 of its volume or thereabouts. I actually went a little further since it was thin and my rice was wet. Once it's cooked down, take it off the heat, add the sugar and salt, and stir until melted.

Stir this sweetened coconut mixture into the warm rice, turning it to gently coat the grains, and serve warm, room temperature, or slightly chilled. Dish it up and pile the mangoes over the top. It's a delicious combination.

It does occur to me that one could simply cook the rice with the coconut milk replacing some or all of the water, but I wouldn't want to cook the rice with sugar in it since it risks scorching and burning. And the sugar would have a hard time dissolving and blending into the rice if it were mixed into the rice afterward without being made a syrup first.


Audrey said...

I've cooked rice for Thai dishes and subsituted half the requested water with coconut milk. I've never had a problem with it scorching, but I may be obsessive about checking the rice because I otherwise have a tendency to let the bottom bits burn to the pot. *smile* This recipe look delish..I might just give it a try real soon!

Dale said...

Hi Audrey! Just coconut milk should be fine. I'm worried about the sugar. :)

the merriweather council said...

i like the way you explain what shop hearts mean to you, "I know that hearts don't equal sales, but I think of it as a general barometer of how appealing my shop is. And really, it just makes me feel good." i agree! and, Congrats! also, that coconut rice looks delicious!

Lisa Kay said...

Wow. Congratulations! I had a day like that when Knitting Daily mentioned my modified cables for the Central Park Hoodie and linked to the blog... So I know what you mean. :) Cool!